by Sandip Dahal (074BCE140)
Random thoughts just come and go. They may come to and get out of any mind.
That mind may be of anyone. That anyone may be an old man lying in a big brown
armchair, swinging back and forth, looking at an open blue sea. That old man
may still have a few miles to mark, a lot of milestones to look back to. Those
milestones may carry a few smiles and a lot of regrets. Those regrets may carry
a few lessons and a lot of pain. And the mind thinks. For the old man can still
think, for the armchair can still swing, for the sea can still sing.
As far as he can
remember, he was never really happy. He was born to a poor fisherman. When he
looks into the sea, he sees a gloomy and dirty face. Perhaps it’s the image of
his father. There was never enough to eat or to wear. He couldn’t afford
shyness, nor could he imagine contentment. Once he asked his father why they
were always hungry when there were a lot of fishes in the sea. His father said,
“The fish a man catches feeds a paying stomach, not a hungry one”.
Like everyone else, he thought his father to be poor but wise. What he wonders
today is why fish was worth more than hunger.
A crab comes out of the sand. It crawls. Just crawls. It has nowhere to reach but everywhere to go. The sea sends images. The crab reminds him of his childhood. How he used to wonder and wander.
He is a small
boy. A small boy is just like a crab out of sand. He just wanders and wonders.
He is in his father’s fishing boat. Alone. Yes, he stole it from his father.
His father could have taken him in one of the fishing trips. Or he could have
just let him step in the boat a few times. But how can that happen? How can a
poor fisherman afford the luxury of a happy child? The child of a poor is meant
to focus on important things that may eliminate poverty. And according to his
father, fishing profession was not that important thing. So what? Can that stop
a child from exploring the singing sea? The sea that calls him, a wandering
crab, with every splash of every tide? With a powerful stroke of the first row,
he answers NO!
The crab crawls near his right leg. He doesn’t notice. It raises its claw. He still doesn’t notice. After a few seconds, the old man will feel an agony. But what if he just sees the crab now, Right Now! And he sees it. He moves his leg and thrashes the crab. There ends one life, life of a wandering crab.
He is a small
boy in his father’s fishing boat, alone somewhere in the blue sea. The boat is
driven by waves and not by the boy’s rowing. He doesn’t know it yet, but the
boy is lost. Or is he? He is finding a new self each time a new wave carries
him to a new water. He sees fishes inside water. Swimming, not dead, not
rotten, not still. He is amazed. He feels the breeze. It is not cold anymore.
The holes in his shirt made him cold, not the breeze. Now he thinks, perhaps a
first thought that could have changed his life, was it poverty that made his
father gloomy, or was it his gloomy father who caused poverty?
Voices start to
cover the silence of the singing sea. He hears his name being called out. The
scary ships with disturbing lights begin to circle him. “We found
him!” Alas! He is found. And there ends one life, life of a wondering boy.
He gets beaten.
The bruises are brutal than his father. They constantly tease him for being so
brave. Brave enough to explore and brave enough to think. His father begins to
worry. Why is the sea calling his son? Does it want him to know? Is it time
already? He thinks if it is time already. He thinks his son is ready to know.
And he decides to let his son know.
The small boy is
sitting on a wet stone, just by the water. His father comes to him. The boy
looks at him with wet eyes. He loves his father. His father loves him too. The
father’s eyes are wet too. “Son.” Yes, he is going to say now. And
the boy is going to know.
remember your uncle?”
“I think I
do.” he tries to recall the uncle’s face “Didn’t he have a mole on
did.” He looks down, and raises his head again. “Do you know how he
don’t” He looks a little confused, a little curious and a little sad.
breathes heavily. “You killed him”
It echoes in the
old man’s ears. “You killed him”.
It echoes in the
old man’s heart. “You killed him”.
It echoes in the
old man’s veins. “You killed him”.
The sea stops
singing with a big splash.
The old man
He is a very small boy. Too small, he is loved by everyone. His uncle also loves him dearly. He and his uncle are alone in the house. What can go wrong? The weather is good. Sky is clear and the sun is shining. No. There is no trace of a single cloud. Isn’t it perfect for the uncle and the very small boy to sail out in the wide blue sea? And there they are. He is very happy. He likes to stare at the moving water as his boat sails on it. He is looking as deep as he can. He sees fishes inside water. Swimming, not dead, not rotten, not still. He is amazed. And he wants to hold one in his hands. As a child, he has the right to wish for anything, let it be holding a fish in his hand. He asks his dear uncle who cannot deny. The uncle is now going to get a fish for the boy. What can go wrong? He is clapping as his uncle is diving to catch a fish. The boy looks happy. The uncle is enjoying this too. What can go wrong? Far away from their boat, a tide is approaching. But it has to be a small wave. Although the tide seems bigger as it approaches nearer, it has to be small. And, the uncle is back on the boat. The boy has a fish on his hand. It is still moving. He is amazed. The fish wants to get back into the water. But he doesn’t know that. He sees it dancing and he dances with joy. And as it was meant to be, the fish jumps back to the sea. He is having such a good time. What can go wrong? Except, the tide is really big now. Big enough to overturn a fisherman’s boat. But it is still far away. And the uncle has already noticed it. He can row faster and reach the shore in time. And there they are. The tide follows and they move faster. The tide is just behind the boat. He is panicking. The uncle is a little a scared too. And there the shore is. They may still make it. The boat just reaches the shore. He jumps out of the boat and starts running. Of course, his uncle is just behind him. What was that loud noise? Was is not just a tide? Can it be anything else? He looks back. He sees nothing. It is all water. A man comes running, picks him up and he is carried away from the sea. The man who came running is not his uncle. What happened there? How can a very small boy make it and not the uncle? He keeps thinking.
As his father
tells him the story, he is in tears and a little shocked. How can he not remember
don’t I remember any of this?”
tsunami, you were in trauma. It took nearly a whole year for you to recover.
And as a part of the treatment, you were convinced to forget it.”
The father takes
want you to be in the boat because I can’t forget. And the fact that you don’t
remember anymore kills me inside.”
man who carried me away.” The boy raises his head. “Was that
And the father walks away.
The small boy
feels so sorry. And as he is lost in the songs of the sea, a wave rises. He
sees something on the crest. It looks like a face. A face with his father’s
gloom. But the face is younger. And it has a distinctive mole. Right there, on
“Uncle Tom!” he remembers.